Thursday, November 10, 2011

The puzzle of vintage seed beads

For some time I have been selling vintage Italian seed beads. When I bought them, I was told they were from the twenties/thirties. About 75% of it was still in its original kilo packages (which included yellowed slips of paper with instructions in Italian on how to complain if you didn't like the quality ). There was a bin with a huge cluster of hanks, all in a big pile.

Well, I've been putting off sorting the cluster of hanks for some time. I've been opening the kilo packages and bagging the beads by the hank instead. There were three colors on the labels, yellow, pink, and blue. Within a few packages, I could see that the color was not uniform from package to package. Some of the blue kilos were bluer than others; most of the pink packages were actually peach. Most of the yellow was a bright yellow with a hint of green, but there were a few hanks that were pale yellow with a hint of green.

Yesterday I tackled most of the bin with the tangled hanks. The threads are old, so it's a challenge to separate them, and often the merest touch will break a strand, sending seed beads everywhere. However, I was delighted to find a group of true pink hanks, and a few pale yellow hanks, both colors I'd thought I'd sold out of.

I also discovered a small set of necklaces made with these seed beads, all labeled with tags that read "Laguna." I did a quick Google search and found that the Laguna jewelry company came into being in New York in 1944, and produced jewelry until the eighties.

An interesting puzzle! Upon looking at the packaging again, I believe I have an answer. The beads are definitely Italian, and the packaging is old. I have a feeling that Laguna purchased these seed beads, and then eventually they fell into disuse and were stored in a warehouse somewhere on the east coast until the vintage bead resurgence in the eighties, whereupon they were purchased by someone and sold at bead shows before my source purchased them. At the very least these beads are from the forties; I think they are older, though, from the twenties or thirties.

I'm very glad to be able to put these beads into my store, and to offer a few of the more unusual variations!

Italian seed beads in the Laurel Moon eBay store

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